Anton Lundell has been busy since flying to South Florida from his home in Finland two weeks ago. Not only has he joined a number of his new Panthers teammates on the ice, but he has thrown out the first pitch at a Marlins game and has visited Fort Lauderdale Beach.
On Saturday, his quest to make the Panthers began in earnest as Florida kicked off the first practice of its development camp in Coral Springs.
Although there will be more trips to the beach in his future, Lundell says his focus right now is try and improve each day in camp — and then joining the Panthers for their main camp later this month.
“It has been great,” Lundell said following his first official practice as a member of the Panthers. “I came a few weeks before the camp and wanted to get to know the guys and the place and it has been amazing. I am just trying to show how good I can play and try to do my best every practice and every time I work here. My goal is to … try and improve my game all the time.”
Lundell was Florida’s first pick of the 2020 NHL Draft going 12th overall.
The day he was drafted, he had already played in a Liiga pro game for HIFK in Helsinki and the Panthers were more than happy to let him play out his year in the Finnish pro league and take his time getting to Florida.
Lundell had a terrific season for HIFK as well as strong performances at the World Junior and World Championship tournaments.
As a 19-year-old playing in a professional men’s league, Lundell was an alternate captain and scored 16 goals for HIFK.
His four goals led Finland as they won silver at the Worlds.
A strong two-way center with a big frame (6-1, 190), Lundell is expected to not only make the Panthers when they break camp next month but perhaps play a nice sized role on the team.
With the Panthers as deep as they are, there are no expectations on Lundell to have to carry any type of heavy load — at least right now.
Lundell, who turns 20 on Oct. 3, is going to get the chance to continue developing his game and playing on a veteran-laden team like the Panthers should help his transition.
Even these camps should help Lundell adjust to the smaller North American ice rink.
Not only has he been skating in Coral Springs to get used to the rink size, but he could get into a few scrimmage-type games when the Panthers head north to the Tampa area for a three-game set against the Lightning, Carolina and Nashville.
“It is a good start for my games here,” Lundell said. “I’m just looking one day, trying to make the most of it and do my best every day. I think the games will help me out a lot because it’s a smaller rink. So this should be a good start from this camp to the next one.”
Upon his return, Lundell will jump into training camp and that is where the fun should really begin.
“This has always been my dream to play here and now I am one step closer,” Lundell said. “I can’t wait to play some games and show what I can do on the ice.”
Florida Panthers development camp roster
Eric Alarie, Karch Bachman, Henry Bowlby, Grigori Denisenko, Logan Hutsko, Anton Lundell, Justin Nachbaur, Serron Noel, Simon Pinard, Cole Schwindt, Justin Sourdif, Connor Trenholm, Trevor Wong.
Frédéric Brunet, Robert Calisti, Max Gildon, Braden Hache, Matt Kiersted, Jacob LeGuerrier, John Ludvig, Evan Nause.
Olivier Adam, Tye Austin, Spencer Knight
Florida Panthers camp schedule at IceDen in Coral Springs
(Closed to the public)
Sunday, Sept. 12
Monday, Sept. 13
Tuesday, Sept. 14
Game schedule at AdventHealth Center Ice in Wesley Chapel
Saturday, Sept. 18
- Carolina Hurricanes vs. Florida Panthers | 10 a.m.
- Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Nashville Predators | 1 p.m.***
Sunday, Sept. 19
- Nashville Predators vs. Florida Panthers | 10 a.m.
- Carolina Hurricanes vs. Tampa Bay Lightning | 1 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 20
- Practice day
Tuesday, Sept. 21
- Nashville Predaotrs vs. Carolina Hurricanes | 10 a.m.
- Florida Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning | 1 p.m.
***Game Location TBA